Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

Art for a great cause

Last week, artist Mechelle Roskiewicz of Loved Dog Art set up her easel and took brush to canvas to portray a local hero--Hudson the railroad dog.

Hudson, with his adorable cocked ears and big pittie smile, wearing a blue argyle vest, pulled his dad torward the refreshment table. "I should never have shown him where the cookies were," his dad said.

Hudson was one of three pit bull puppies found two years ago, brutally abused, with nails driven through their paws, possibly in an attempt to nail them to the railroad track. After his rescue, he was fitted with a prosthetic paw. Hudson is a canine good citizen and certified therapy dog.

Mechelle and Hudson were at a local Talbot's store to bring awareness to homeless pets and benefit the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society. A percentage of sales at the store was donated to the shelter, as well as a percentage of custom orders for artwork. Here's a closer look at Hudson's portrait.

This painting, Stylish Little Shopper, was auctioned off the benefit the Humane Society.

We were lucky enough to get one of Mechelle's portraits of Kelly a few years ago. It's gorgeous, isn't it?

It was a wonderful night, and for a wonderful cause.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Animal Stars Book Review and Giveaway

Sometimes a shelter pet becomes a loving family member. 
And other times, he also becomes a star!

Ike: "Do you think even I could become a star?"

Do you have a favorite animal actor? Maybe it's:
Chico as Hachi
Guido as Paulie
Finder as Joey, War Horse
Casey as Baloo, Jungle Book
Cimmaron as Jackie, True Grit
Kitty the python, Snakes on a Plane
wolves, Game of Thrones
Uggie, The Artist
Abbie as Sam, I am Legend
Crackerjack as Crookshanks, Harry Potter
or maybe another.

 Have you wondered how these animal actors were discovered, trained, and where are they now?

ANIMAL STARS: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors, by Robin Ganzert, PhD, and Allen and Linda Anderson, is a new book with true stories of trainers, actors, directors, and, of course, dogs, cats, horses, bears, penguins, and hundreds of wild animal actors.

I've always been interested in the animals in TV shows and movies, but all of the books on my shelves on the topic were old and outdated. I knew the training techniques must have changed over the years. And, what about the animals in current movies that I was watching right now? Then I discovered Animal Stars. This book contains up-to-date information on animals starring in current shows, and fascinating stories from trainers, actors and directors. 

*Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway at the end! I'm giving away 3 copies.

My favorite stories are the rags to riches tales--it's heartwarming that so many cats and dogs are saved from animal shelters and given a second chance at life, along with a wonderful career. (And, a portion of the proceeds from the book will also aid the American Humane Association.)

Along with the personal tales of the animals, this book gives you an inside look at how they were trained. Trainer Mark Harden worked with Chico, the Akita who portrayed Hachi. Mark explains that animals don't really "act." If a dog is supposed to have a sad moment, he can't tell them to "feel sad." Instead, he thinks about what physical behaviors the animal can do that would help portray sadness. Then he teaches the behaviors and calls it a trick. For example, he might teach a dog to move slowly, lower his head while walking, stand still, and lie down. "Add some violins and some mood lighting, and to an audience, the dog looks sad."

Looking in all directions: Zeke, Kelly and Ike could use some acting lessons!

I've been a fan of Allen and Linda Anderson's many inspiring books, (and even have shared a story in one of them--Animals and the Kids who Love Them), and along with the talent and expertise of Robin Ganzert, PhD, President and CEO of the American Humane Society, this combines to make an excellent, informative and heartwarming book that stands out from the others on the shelf. You'll want to go back and watch your favorite movies again after reading the book, after you've had your sneak peek behind the scenes. And then, go back and read the book again!

Enter here for a chance to win your own copy of Animal Stars. There will be 3 winners!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Full Disclosure: I was provided with 1 copy of Animal Stars to review and 3 to give away. This in no way influenced my review. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

3 Dog Night

Wordless Wednesday- Kelly, Zeke and Ike have each found their place in our home--Where did the puppy go?

Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Dog's Alphabet: G - L

I thought it would be fun to send Kelly and Ike back to school, and they've started by learning the alphabet. Last week we covered A-F and many of you contributed wonderful ideas of your own. I can't wait to hear your ideas this time around!

Here's our friend Gunner, already an academic pro!

G is for Golden Retriever--There are bazillions of wonderful breeds of dogs, including whatever makes up Kelly. But Ike insisted I write this one.

H is for Hump Day-- Why is it for some dogs, that every day is hump day? We knew a dog who enjoyed this embarrassing activity every day after dinner. Puppy Zeke the puppy tries this with Ike every now and then. Cut it out, boys!

I is for Isis- No, not the current crisis spelled with all caps, but the yellow lab in Downton Abbey named after an Egyptian goddess. I can't wait for the new season to start!

J is for Jump- which is what many dogs like to do. Up onto the bed, onto the couch, over obstacles in an agility course, and best of all, into our arms.

K is for Kelly-- Kelly says it's only fair. By the way, we think her breeds are cocker spaniel and long haired dachshund.

L is for Love. 'nuff said.

Now it's your turn!What words can you think of for G-L?
And join us next week for more alphabet fun!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Blog the Change- Animal Hoarding

Be the Change for Animals- Blog the Change

Every time I hear the news of a case of animal hoarding, I cringe. Watching video of authorities and rescue groups carry out cage after cage of malnourished and filthy cats and dogs, and sometimes rabbits, snakes or other animals, I feel sick that these innocent pets have been neglected. Sometimes the animals are in such bad condition that they can't be saved.

I believe that the hoarder may start out as well-intentioned, but quickly becomes overwhelmed, and loses sight of the best interest of the pets, to the point that they don't even accept that there's a problem.

How you Can help Animal Hoarding

What is Hoarding?
 Animal Hoarding happens when someone keeps an unusually large number of animals without the ability to properly care for them. The hoarder usually doesn't admit that the conditions are poor and the animals are neglected.

How Can You Tell an Animal Hoarder from an Animal Rescuer
 1. Unsanitary Environment--there may be a smell of urine, or feces may not be cleaned up. There may be insects flying around.
2. Pets aren't getting adequate food, water, and medical attention
3. Pets appear sick, malnourished, with parasites, fleas, or wounds
4. Hoarder refuses to acknowledge overcrowded and unhealthy conditions

If You Suspect a Case of Hoarding, How Can You Be the Change for these Animals?
According to the ASPCA :
  1. Report the Situation - Call your local humane law enforcement department, police department, animal shelter, animal welfare group or veterinarian if you suspect a case of hoarding. You may not want to get the person “in trouble,” but a phone call may be the first step to get them and the animals the help they need.
  2. Consider both the animals and the individual-  While the animals' safety and well being is at risk, the hoarder needs help as well. Your local department of the aging, adult protective services, health departments and other mental health agencies may be able to get the animal hoarder connected to the right services.
  3. Volunteer to help the homeless animals- With the removal of so many animals from a hoarding situation, the burden on local shelters can be staggering. Volunteer your time to help clean cages, socialize animals, walk dogs and perform other such necessary duties.
  4. Support local legislation. Laws that recognize hoarding as unlawful with appropriate punishment and mandatory treatment are necessary. Even though hoarding cases exhibit typical characteristics of animal abuse, they are rarely prosecuted because they fail to show the individual's intent to harm.
  5. Educate others --Help people recognize the signs of hoarding and how they can help.
Join the blog hop sponsored by Be the Change for Animals.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Snack and Two Books

What sounds nicer than settling down with a good book and a snack? Here's Kelly and Ike, enjoying a little down time on a crisp fall afternoon.

 So, let's take a look at what Kelly and Ike are into these days. First, the snack-- asked us if we'd like to sample one of their new fall yummies. Ike was looking over my shoulder when I was reading the email, and he suggested that we try the Nutrisource treats. They come in chewy and crunchy, and in flavors such as chicken, liver, and lamb. Ike picked the Crunchy Grain free Whitefish. You might think fish is an odd choice for a dog, but due to Ike's allergies, seafood seems to be what agrees with him best.

The Nutrisource Whitefish Treats are made with real whitefish, fruits and veggies. Ingredients include peas, pumpkin, cranberries, carrots, apples, lettuce and watercress. I don't think I recall a dog treat including lettuce before, so that was different!

Of course, Ike found these new treats delectable, and even shared them with Kelly. Both dogs loved them. Nutrisource also makes excellent dog food and grain free dog food, highly rated at Dog Food Advisor.

That treat was for your dog, of course. For you, I'd suggest some nice, warm pumpkin muffins and a cup of mulled cider.

Now, on to the books. If you're a fan of fiction, I highly recommend the latest Chet and Bernie Mystery, Paw and Order by New York Times bestselling author Spencer Quinn. I've been reading and reviewing Chet and Bernie mysteries for the last four or five novels, and this is the seventh in the series. Quinn's writing is spot-on clever, witty, engaging and intelligent. Our canine pal Chet is the star of the book, as the stories are told through his loveable, sincere, doggy voice. In Paw and Order, Chet takes on Washington D.C. international spies, and a feisty guinea pig.

Ike is a big fan of Chet the dog.

When asked what humans can learn from dogs, Spencer Quinn replies, "That's a huge subject and a a main theme of the Chet and Bernie series. Boiling it down, it's about an attitude toward life: in the now, optimistic, physical, loving. And not overthinking things."

For nonfiction-lovers, check out The Language of Dogs by Justin Silver, with David Donnenfeld. Dog trainer Justin Silver is star of the show, Dogs in the City. I really like Justin's training philosophy: "Dogs are eager to please their human owners, and they honestly think they're doing the right thing. Most dogs aren't being willfully disobedient; the two of you just aren't speaking the same language."

Kelly is wondering, "Do you know what I'm thinking right now?"

In this book, Justin walks you through training scenarios by looking at the whole picture in every type of situation, and teaching you how to teach  your dog what you want (not what you don't want).

Learning should be fun for your dog...and this is a great book to help you accomplish just that!

Now, isn't this a lovely, cozy afternoon with Kelly and Ike?

*Full Disclosure:
I was provided with the following products in exchange for my honest review-
One 14 oz. bag of Nutrisource Treats
1 copy of the book Paw and Order by Spencer Quinn
1 copy of the book The Language of Dogs by Justin Silver
This in no way influenced my reviews. Opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Visit to the Petting Paddock

One of the best parts about autumn is going apple picking...and by that I mean going to the farm stand and buying apples...and by apples I mean cider donuts.

This past week I got a pleasant bonus to my farm stand experience with a hay ride and petting paddock. Here are some of the adorable creatures I met. I think I had as much fun as any little kid visiting the baby animals in the petting paddock!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wordless Wednesday-- Gnome Sweet Gnome

Kelly isn't sure if this gnome is friend or foe. What do you think?

We are joining Wordless Wednesday blog hop.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pawprints on my Heart premiers

When I'm not chasing Kelly, Ike and Zeke around, and blogging here at The Writer's Dog, I also write for Guideposts magazine--helping bring to you inspirational stories of hope, faith, prayer, positive thinking, and personal growth.

Now I am honored and excited to be joining an amazing team of bloggers on Guideposts website, as well. My new blog is Pawprints on my Heart--"A faith-filled journey with the animals who pounce, wag and wander across my heart, and fun tips for strengthening bonds with our pets."

I'll still be blogging here at The Writer's Dog. And now, you can find me over at Guideposts as well, with new posts every Monday and Thursday.

I'll be blogging about my own furry friends, Kelly and Ike, and my granddog Zeke and grandcat Cinnamon, and also dogs and cats belonging to friends, and pets in the news. I'll bring you pictures and videos that illuminate the human-animal bond. I'll also be reaching out to you--readers and bloggers--to share your inspirational stories and highlight your amazing pets. So feel free to contact me if you have a great, heartwarming story you'd like to share.

Today is my premier blog at Pawprints on my Heart. I'd be delighted if you'd stop by and say hello!